This was originally published on Nov. 4, 2018 in the Des Moines Register. Story by Peter Komendowski.
The marijuana industry is abusing the plight of ill Iowans to further the agenda of marijuana legalization.
The big money in the marijuana business is not in cannabidiol (CBD), a marijuana derivative which Iowa allows for treatment of epilepsy or other diseases. The payoff is in another property of marijuana — tetrahydrocannabinal or THC. This is the psychoactive compound that produces a “high” — and some dangerous side effects, including impaired brain function, short-term memory loss, visual impairment and addiction.
These side effects could be unintended consequences of our current cannabidiol legislation in Iowa, but these risk factors can certainly be reduced with strict adherence to the legislated 3 percent cap on THC content and even stricter controls on the amounts individuals are able to use or possess in total dosage.
The same marijuana “experts” that clamored for CBD legislation, and got it, are now saying that it is not enough: They cannot make a profit without more THC. The Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board voted unanimously Friday against recommending legislators lift the THC limit. They’re right and lawmakers should follow the board’s lead. Here’s why:
Advocates of marijuana — also known as pot, cannabis, Mary Jane, bud, weed, reefer, tea, oil, stick, dope, grass, wacky tobacco, and herb — have tried many times over the years to capture the imagination and hearts of Americans with anecdotal and widely unproven claims of either health benefits or a “safe” recreational high. We know better.
Today’s marijuana dealers have products called “Calm,” Soothe,” Harmony” and “Comfort.” Times may change but some things remain the same.
The marijuana industry and its followers are abusing the privilege of empathy and the plight of innocent Iowans with very real medically recognized problems to further the agenda of de facto marijuana legalization. They’re doing this by blurring the difference between cannabidiol, a compound derived from marijuana under strict Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, with the potentially dangerous THC. They are pushing counterculture claims of largely anecdotal reports of miraculous curative powers to force THC into our legislated CBD program.
Lest you think I am exaggerating, let me point out that the Partnership for a Drug Free Iowa began to sound warnings of an impending opioid crisis over 12 years ago. We are now confident that our warnings about THC-based products being dealt outside of the oversight of the FDA and bona fide medical supervision, and the risk to Iowans are very real and will yield potentially catastrophic outcomes. And the spread of consequences may qualify as another wave of addiction as an epidemic.
Marijuana is the primary drug of abuse by Iowa youth. More than 3,000 Iowa children attended treatment for behavioral issues related to marijuana use in 2014, representing 66 percent of all juvenile drug treatment cases. By 2016, this percentage rose to 76 percent. This is occurring because the confusion of claims of marijuana use as being safe blurs the most important value children apply to understanding consequences: the perception of risk.
The recent request to include ADHD, bipolar disorder, and autism as targets of THC treatment — all largely affecting youth populations — will create a known conflict for our mental health system. It poses the issue of treatment with an addictive product with the prospect of addiction. Certainly, this is a case where the risk of treatment may outweigh the benefits. This is exactly how the opioid epidemic started.
Even with accessibility to THC, this is a largely avoidable consequence — if we hold to the limit of 3 percent THC at the very least.
Peter Komendowski is the president and executive director of Partnership for a Drug Free Iowa.